There are several blogs I follow; I read them whenever I can. Sometimes I just read, and other times I read and comment. Only a small percent of blog readers take time to comment. The reasons are many: too busy, a lack of confidence, not knowing what to say, fear, and so forth. There are, however, some reasons why we should comment. Here are three:
1) To Interact With Others: The biggest reason to comment is to connect with other likeminded readers. Some do more than just comment on the post, they also comment on other comments. Just remember to keep things positive and civil. Don’t say something online you wouldn’t say in person to your closest friends.
2) To Connect With The Author: As we read blogs, we get to know the author, but the author doesn’t know us at all, though most want to. Adding relevant comments, with appropriate self-disclosure allows the author (and other readers) to get to know us. And don’t we all want to be known?
3) A Link to Our Site: Though it’s secondary, most commenting programs allows us to include a link to our website when we comment. This is good for search engine optimization (SEO), and it provides a means for others to learn more about us if they wish.
4) Not to Promote Our Book: Commenting on blogs is not the place to promote ourselves or our books. Comments are for dialogue not marketing. Avoid temptation.
The social media site Twitter is becoming the go-to platform for many
I’m on several social media sites, but the one that I use the most and am the least confused by is Twitter. I’ve grown a following, tweet and retweet regularly, and engage a bit with my followers.
Twitter is the one social media site where I’m enjoying some traction. Once a day I spend time to schedule most of my tweets for the next day, but I also tweet some things on the fly. And on most days I invest a few minutes to interact with followers and find more interesting people to follow.
I view Twitter a lot like broadcasting. Though only a fraction of my potential audience will see what I tweet, the possibility exists for anyone of them to read my tweets if they’re looking at the right time (quite unlike Facebook). I think that’s why I’m growing fond of Twitter.
Use Social Media as the Spokes of the Wheel and Your Website as the Hub
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Most telephone answering services (TASs) have a website. That’s great! But not all do. They don’t think it’s worth the modest investment and feel social media serves them quite well.
I’ve even heard from services that are thinking about ditching their website in favor of using social instead. That would be a bad move.
Just Because Social Media Is Easy Doesn’t Make It Ideal
Social media is simple to use. Most of your staff is already adept at using the major platforms. And you likely have a platform-specific expert on staff who could help with any up-and-coming provider you might consider.
This is not the case with websites, which require a bit of expertise to manage and have a cost component, even though it may be small. But just because social platforms are easy doesn’t mean it’s the best solution.
With social media come significant risks, which you can smartly avoid by having your own website. Read on to learn more.
The Narrative is Harder to Manage on Social Media
The messaging on social media is challenging to manage—not yours, but everyone else’s. Anyone can say about anything in response to any one of your messages.
On some platforms you can block these offending messages, but on others you can’t. And too often these contrary messages spark an online war between your supporters and your detractors. No one wins.
Nowadays few websites allow for visitor interaction. And for those that still do, you—as the website owner—can delete the offending message. Your website is a safe place with relevant information about your business. Its free from trolls and malcontents.
You Can’t Control How the Platform Looks or Works
The wonderful thing about social media is it has a predetermined format for you to follow. Though you can control what you add, you have little say over where it goes or what it looks like. It offers little flexibility or customization capabilities.
Though some website providers follow this same philosophy, a self-hosted website offers a blank canvas for you or your design team to configure the way you want it and make it function however you wish.
You Don’t Own Your Presence on Social
I’ve saved the most compelling reason for last. You don’t own your page on any social media platform. Your provider does. They can limit who sees your messages. More infuriatingly, they can charge you so that the people who want to see your information actually can.
Even worse, they can summarily shut your account down at any time, leaving you with little recourse. When this happens you’ve lost all the traffic and the audience that you took years to build.
Owning your own website smartly avoids these problems and you falling victim to the whims of the social media overlords.
If you like social media, go ahead, and use it for your TAS. But don’t put all your eggs in one proverbial basket. Instead use social media to point people to your website, the one online destination that you can own and control.
And if you don’t like social media, don’t use it. Focus on your website. That’s what matters most.
For social media,I post an excerpt from my blog posts on social media, with a link pointing back to that post on my website.
Though social media platforms prefer you don’t do this, because they want to keep you on their site, I want to get people to my site. That’s what is most important to me. That’s why I tease the post on social media and send them to my site to read the full piece.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to repeat the whole post on social media, and it’s too time-consuming to write a new post just for social media.
Some writers post new material on social media. Others repeat content from their blog. I do neither. Here’s why.
Republishing the whole post isn’t a good idea because it repeats content, and search engines dismiss duplicate content. And I feel it’s too time-consuming and therefore not a good use of my time to write new material just for social media.
My goal is to direct people from social media to my website, my home base, which I own and control. Therefore, I post an excerpt from my blog posts on social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, with a link pointing back to the post on my website. I do so on Twitter, too, because their character limit necessitates brevity.
Though social media platforms prefer you do not post links—because they want to keep visitors on their site—I want to get people to my site. That’s what’s most important to me. So I tease the post on social media and send people to my site to read the full piece.
At one time, publishers would be impressed with your sheer number of Twitter followers (or Facebook likes), but now their focus is more on engagement. What is your Twitter strategy to build your author platform?
Are you interacting with your Twitter followers? Do you try to connect with them, and do they appreciate the value of your tweets?
Follow people who share your mindset and fit this perspective, and don’t worry about following back the folks who don’t.
In past months we’ve talked about a lot of social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest. Another social media platform is Instagram, a place to share pictures and videos from your smartphone (and now computer).ur
As far as social media sites go, it’s still a kid, launched in 2010. (And bought by Facebook a couple of years later.)
It has a fresh, clean interface and is easy to use. It appeals to a younger demographic, with upwards of 800 million users worldwide. Many writers use Instagram to connect with their readers.
Are you on Instagram?
I am, but I’m a newbie. I post images and videos from my blog, along with book covers.
Maybe we can follow each other.
If you’re not on Instagram, check it out.
Here’s my Instagram page.
Please share your Instagram link below. Then we can follow each other.
As a writer, I don’t so much like this interest in video, but I have written video scripts for some of my clients, and it’s a lot of fun.
As a consumer, I like videos. They pop up on Facebook and Twitter, where they seem to capture people’s attention over images and text. (Again, not good news for writers.)
I have a YouTube channel. It has 41 videos on it. And I have a whopping two subscribers. [January 2022 update: 317 videos and 248 subscribers.]
Most of the videos are for my blog posts, which my VA embeds into my posts on my blog. My VA also creates videos for me based on my text. She does a great job, so if you like them, it’s all because of her!
For some, the mere mention of social media produces a crooked smile and lights up their eyes. To them, it’s the preferred way to communicate; they would be lost without it.
Others groan and roll their eyes at the mention of social media. Some give it a resigned yawn, quickly tuning out the discussion or leaving the room. Still, others are desperately trying to figure it out, while some don’t understand the fuss, and more than a few simply don’t care.
What is all the fuss? Why should you care? The reality is that we should all care, because the future of your business may be at stake.
For businesses social media allows you to promote your business, reach out to prospects, connect with clients, and recruit and support staff. Regarding this, there are two major considerations.
First, if your competitor provides customer service via social media, can you afford not to?
Second, if the businesses that tap your labor pool use social media to find new hires, shouldn’t you do the same? These social media opportunities have been amply covered by others.
However, before rushing into social media, consider the time it will take and the personnel who will be involved.
Email: Email is both a prelude and an entry point to social media. Succinctly, everything you currently do with phone calls, you need to apply to email. Answer email, screen email, route email, add value to email, prioritize email, and escalate email.
Chat: Having the option to engage in text chat is an increasing expectation on consumer websites. You can do the same things with it that you currently do for the phone number that is listed there: answer questions, assist with site navigation, and keep visitors from abandoning their shopping cart.
Facebook: Making a Facebook page is easy. However, to be of use, relevant content needs to be posted and, more importantly, the people who “like” you deserve interaction. When customer service issues surface on Facebook, they need to be quickly addressed. Similarly, if an inquiry materializes, it warrants a speedy response—just be sure to follow social media etiquette; doing sales wrongly on social media can be a painful and damaging experience.
Blogging: Most blogs allow comments to be made, but to protect against spam, comments are often manually screened and approved. Additionally, a response to the comment is sometimes called for and a dialogue can take place, be it within the blog’s comment section or via email.
Twitter: Although Twitter is a broadcast medium, sometimes a tweet may warrant a personal response. Don’t forget to check your Twitter feed and then follow through.
Media Alerts: There are services that scan cyberspace for mentions of a word or phrase, such as a company’s name, a trademark, or an individual’s name. Although helpful, this information generally needs to be filtered. For example, one of the magazines that I publish is Connections Magazine. There are scores of magazines with “connections” in the title, so my media alert for “connections magazine” contains numerous false matches.
Other Ideas: These are just a few ideas. As you investigate social media, you will assuredly come up with more. Consider LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube.
If any of these seem worthwhile to you, then please check them out—otherwise, feel free to pass. Just don’t completely ignore social media—the future of your business may depend on it.
Final Thoughts:In pondering the question posed in this article’s title, social media is both an opportunity and a distraction. I’ve been on LinkedIn the longest, and I welcome those who want to become part of my network and occasionally send out similar requests to others, but I’ve yet to actually use it for something practical.
Next, after hearing horror stories of the time-consuming and even addictive nature of Facebook, I long resisted it, only acquiescing to it in the past year.
Though Facebook held an initial intrigue, the criticism of it being a time-waster quickly proved true. I haven’t “checked” Facebook in days; I now use it primarily to communicate with friends who won’t respond to an email or phone call.
In answering the question of who will perform all these backend and follow-up activities, know that many, if not all of them, can be outsourced.
For example, some contact centers specialize in providing email processing services and text chat services to their clients. Many of them can also address these other social media response issues as well.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.
He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.